‘A black man was killed by Minneapolis police last night.” The news broke my writing concentration. “The name of the man has not been released. More information later.” My heart pounded my chest.
Minneapolis! Oh dear God, let it not be Elliott or Carl! What am I saying? Let it be someone else … someone else’s? Why anyone?
Remorse filled me. My pulse raced.
What a selfish thought!
Trying to gather my thoughts and write with unsteady fingers, my brain switched back to the sound of the TV. Write … listen … write … listen. Try … wait … try … wait.
Call someone to find out if the boys are all right? Where are their phone numbers? I’ll wait for pictures, then I’ll see for myself.
Write … listen … write … listen. Try … wait … try … wait. The battle raged within. My neck muscles stiffened.
Shall I call Antonia? Can I find her phone number? I hate to interrupt her work just to ask. She is in Hopkins. I think Carl or Elliott live or work in Minneapolis. I’ll wait for pictures.
Listen … write … listen … write.
No, I don’t want to upset anyone else because of something I heard. I need to be sure. I need to see or hear for myself who was killed before causing concern.
Heart pounding, I abandon writing. My eyes are glued to the TV. Blindly watching without perceiving. Filtering views without processing. Scanning to capture a familiar image.
“We have received video from a bystander at the scene.”
There it is, but there’s an officer in the way, talking to the videographer.
I scream at the television. Move, so I can see who lies behind your feet!
The officer moves.
O thank you, I can see now.
The black man’s lips are large, not as narrow and fine as Carl’s or Elliott’s. What a relief!
He is trying to say something, but the side of his face is mashed against the street by the knee of another officer pressing his neck.
“I can’t breathe,” he says. “Momma, I’m dying.”
I watch him die. TV showed it to the world. I tremble.
What a relief, heavenly Father, that he wasn’t one of my grandchildren! Thank you! Thank you! He was someone else’s grandson, son, husband, father.
A sense of relief sweeps over me. Remorse strikes again. He was not mine! Shock! He was somebody’s. He was someone else and I’m glad he wasn’t mine?
This must be how Elliot and Carl’s mother must feel. Is this a fear that black women must experience every time their black husband, son, or grandson goes out the door?
How terrible to have to live under these conditions in a country that proclaims in its founding document: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Fauntie Wilcoxon is a former Oak Park Arms resident and a member of the Oak Park Writers Group. As a white grandmother of biracial grandsons, this is what she experienced when she learned of George Floyd’s death. She is a retired missionary to Argentina, nurse educator, medical transcriptionist and editor, clergywoman and widow of a clergyman.